Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Dr Kennedy Malama says the number of COVID-19 patients on oxygen and those in critical condition still remains high.

In a statement, Tuesday, Dr Malama observed that during the third wave, patients stayed longer in admission than in the first and second waves.

“As a nation, we have continued seeing an improving picture in terms of positivity, admissions and deaths over the past weeks. However, we have noted that the patients on oxygen and those who are critical in condition remain relatively high at 72% and 27% respectively. It is from this pool of patients and a few from new admissions that we continue recording deaths. The patients we have in our hospitals have tended to stay longer, some up to two months, more than we saw during the first and second waves, again indicating the severity of the disease we are seeing,” Dr Malama said.

“We urge members of the public not to relax as the situation, though improved, is not yet fully controlled. We are ramping up surveillance and testing to timely detect spikes for appropriate action. In keeping with our strategy of continued community engagement, risk communication and enforcement of infection, prevention and control measures, our multisectoral teams countrywide inspected 2,061 premises, of which 1,799 (87 percent) were complaint, whereas 255 (12 percent) were served with notices of improvement and 7 (0.3 percent) were closed. Today, we recorded 22 admissions indicating that transmission is still taking place in our communities. We further note that we are 88 days into the third wave, whereas by comparison, the second wave took 115 days.”

He said the cumulative usage of vaccines now stood at 527,205 out of 977,600 received.

“Under the vaccination programme, we recorded 192 Dose 1 and 236 Dose 2 AstraZeneca vaccinations as well as 2,882 doses of Johnson and Johnson. The breakdown of the cumulative vaccinations by vaccine type is as follows: 308,123 Dose 1 vaccinations (301,224 AstraZeneca and 6,899 Sinopharm) and 219,082 fully vaccinated [i.e. 106,293 Dose 2 AstraZeneca (35 percent of those that received dose 1); 106,453 Johnson and Johnson, and 6,336 Dose 2 Sinopharm (92 percent of those that received dose 1)]. Our cumulative usage of the 977,600 vaccines received to date now stands at 527,205 doses (54 percent),” Dr Malama said.

And Dr Malama said the country had recorded 358 new confirmed COVID-9 cases out of 6,226 tests done in the last 24 hours.

He said the number of cumulative confirmed cases now stood at 202,787.

“In the 24 hours, we recorded 358 new confirmed COVID-19 cases out of 6,226 tests conducted giving 5.8 percent positivity. The distribution of the new cases and within province positivity are as follows: Central 15 (six percent), Copperbelt 38 (even percent), Eastern 47 (five percent), Luapula 59 (eight percent), Lusaka 23 (one percent), Muchinga 41 (15 percent), Northern 32 (nine percent), North-western 65 (24 percent), Southern 11 (one percent), and Western 27 (nine percent). The cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date now stands at 202,787,” he said.

Dr Malama said 12 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.

“Sadly, 12 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, an increase from the low numbers we have been seeing in the past week. The deaths were reported from Eastern three, Lusaka three Southern two, Copperbelt one, Muchinga one, North-western one, and Western Province one. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 3,550 (classified as 2,665 COVID-19 deaths and 885 COVID-19 associated deaths),” Dr Malama said.

“We discharged 372 patients (28 from facilities and 344 from community management), bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 196,724 (97 percent recovered). We currently have 2,513 active cases, with 2,311 (92 percent) under community management and 202 (eight percent) admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities. We had 22 new admissions in the last 24hours. Among those currently admitted, 144 (71 percent) are on oxygen therapy and 54 (27 percent) are in critical condition.”

He said the Ministry was reviewing the directives that were put in place to curb COVID-19.

“Today, we assure members of the public that the directives which are in place to curb COVID-19 in the country will soon be reviewed in the coming days and the nation will be updated. We reiterate that the COVID-19 situation in our country continues getting better but not yet fully under control. Let’s hold hands and heighten adherence to the prescribed public health measures,” said Dr Malama.